After 35 days, the government is officially back open, until February 15th. The shutdown was a frustrating thing, especially for a new majority democratic House. It also took attention away from the huge steps the U.S. made towards a Congress more representative of their diverse population.
In 1822 Joseph Marion Hernández of Florida became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress. In 1870, Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress. In 1900 Robert M. Wilcox of Hawaii became the first Asian Pacific American (APA) to serve in Congress. In 1916, Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first women to serve in the house of representatives. Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and African Americans have been seriously underrepresented in congress as a whole, but are better represented in the House than the Senate.
With the election of the 116th Congress, the minority representation, in race, is now at 22%. 55 black members will serve, as well as 44 new members who identify as Hispanic or Latino. 4 Native Americans will serve, including Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas and Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, the 2 first Native American women in Congress. Women broke lots of barriers this election overall, with representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York becoming the youngest woman elected to congress.
The 116th Congress includes the first two Muslim women ever to serve: Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Still, unaffiliated Americans are underrepresented with only 1% of congress identifying this way. Atheist Americans have no representation although a recent survey claims 1 in 10 Americans are atheist. The new Congress includes Jewish lawmakers as well as three Muslims, two Buddhists and three Hindus.